Defining Active Listening
The concept of active listening used in this tutorial can be described as a communication skill that involves both the sender and the receiver in the communication process. Some people would say that communication doesn't exist without the involvement of at least one active sender and one active receiver. Once a message is "sent," it may pass through "noise" that distorts the message. A receiver tries to understand what the sender's message or expression of feelings means. After receiving a message, an active receiver puts his or her understanding of the message into his or her own words (paraphrases) and returns it as feedback for the sender's verification.
Shannon-Weaver Communication Model
When you really listen to someone, it is important to concentrate on the content of that message and the individual who is speaking.
- If you use phrases like, "I think," "I feel," it means that you weren't really listening or at least you aren't responding to the content of what the other person is saying. In other words, you are reacting to, rather than responding to a question or comment.
- As a listener, paraphrasing would be helpful to indicate that you understood the message. Put it in your own words and check it out with the person who sent the message.
- Use feedback to verify the message with the sender. Feedback is most useful at the earliest opportunity after a statement has been made or a behavior exhibited, but you still need to wait for the speaker to indicate that he wants your feedback.